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  • Rudy Bauer

How to Read a Text, How to Hear a Text

By Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D., Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.


How to read a text and how to hear a text. How to open words and syllables so that knowledge arises within your own body, within your inner awareness. When you are located in mind alone, when you are located in conceptualness and concrete mind alone, you will be locked in and contained. William Reich described concrete minds as living machines. Concreteness can be described as rigidity, a mode of tense cognitive activity. Strangely enough, concreteness with its compulsiveness, its drivenness can distort the sense of presence and the sense of reality. The concrete mind in its literalness struggles to find the right solution. The literal view can be narrow, highly vigilant and stimulus−stimulation bound. The concrete mind struggles to find the right solution relentlessly. Of course whatever the solution, it never is enough. One becomes stuck in the stimulus of the word and stuck in the signification of the word. The nexus between the signifier and signified is without space and is densely bound.

There is a profound difference between mind and awareness. To know this difference is to know the necessary difference. Longchenpa suggests the poetic capacity of the opening of language wherein the language signifies not the mind alone but language signifying the awareness field. And so learning about awareness takes place not in mind alone but within awareness field itself. The awareness field is wisdom gnosis or direct perception. Longchenpa as well as Dudjom Lingpa in their attempts to demystify gnosis would suggest that everyone is intelligent enough to do this. The major limitation is concreteness of mind alone. This concreteness is not a function of intelligence, or the brightness. Concreteness contains the brightness. Concreteness mutes the brightness of experience, the brightness of thought. Concrete thinking can become a substitute for brightness. And this substitution becomes what is often called “figuring it out.”

The signifier of wording can be reflective of mind alone and so the signification results in mind-alone experience. In fact if the signifier style is concrete and mechanical and reified, then the result will be signification that will be at the same level of experiencing, namely, concrete, mechanical and reified. No matter what the content or context, cognitive style organizes experience. Thus language can be the expression of mind alone, resulting in the dense experience of mind alone. Thinking is redundant and unhappily thinking. Thinking and even more thinking does not lead to understanding, the nonconceptual understanding that is the nature of awareness.

Heidegger describes this actuality of the potential of language this way: Poetically does man dwell and Language is the house of being. So here the wording opens just like the icon opens so that Being shines through the syllables, awareness shines through the syllables and awareness is manifested through the voice of the syllables. The wording unpacks and opens and there is within this openness, and within this openness arises the transmission of that which the words are signifying takes place. Signification arises within awareness and within the transmission of awareness.

Signifiers and the signified

In mind alone to mind alone the signifier can signify affective states or conceptual states, or memory or sensation or information. The signifiers from within the awareness field can also signify and invoke symbolic experience that is felt and known directly. Signifiers signifying and invoking symbolic experience of awareness of awareness. The signifiers of both language and symbols can invoke the spaciousness of luminous knowingness, the luminosity of awareness that is penetrating and within all phenomena in essence. The essence of the situation becomes manifest, the essence of appearance and emptiness becomes manifest. The indivisibility between appearance and emptiness becomes manifest. Awareness as knowingness, as luminous spacious openness takes place, and the translucidity of experience takes place within the place of awareness, which is you as you as a who.

When a person is experientially within in the field of awareness and so attuned to the other who is also within the field with them, then direct knowing can manifest, can arise. What is going to be said can be known before what is to be said is said. This is unmediated knowing. This happens when you are in the field in the same field as speaker and as hearer. This posture is very different than the times wherein the speaker and hearer and the space in between them is mediated by only words and cognition and affective states. Concrete mind speaking to concrete mind and concrete mind hearing concrete mind! When this concrete event happens there are never enough words and unending details, more and more minute details, to fill in the space in between. The space in between is what cannot be tolerated or held, which is awareness itself. Mechanical speech to mechanical ears results in a mechanical mind and mechanical knowing.

When the speaker and the one spoken to are within the field, then awareness is speaking to awareness as awareness. The space in between is now the field, and the space within each other is now the field. So there the speaker and hearer are the field, and direct knowing is possible. They are within the field as the field. Inside to inside happens, and knowingness arises from within.

As Bodhidharma said in the 6th century, beyond words and letters there is a transmission that does not belong to any tradition, it is the very nature of human awareness, which is the Buddha. The Buddha is not a person but primordial awareness within everything and everyone.

When you are speaking from the field within yourself and you are hearing from within the field, the field itself opens for direct understanding. From within to within, from self to self, from inside to inside, unmediated knowing. Knowledge arises, the mind is infused. There is a vast difference of a couple trying to making connection through mind alone, thinking alone. They make points, I have point here and what is your point. Point making and point seeking. Life on the point. This is so different than when a couple is speaking within the field as field. This is the experience of being within the nonduality of the field as singular dualities. Being as singular dualities being within the nonduality of field is heaven. That is what the Buddha field is.

Many people are wonderfully able speak from the field and articulate their experience within the field of the present moment and in the present hour and also many people are able to hear from and from within the field. There is this great practice of speaking experientially near while being within the field of awareness. To practice this skill, to accomplish this learned skill is so valuable both in love and in work. It is a high aesthetic.

Speaking from your experience in the immediacy of what is happening is the simplest and most direct way to learn this skill. When you are only commenting on yesterday you will be in yesterday and your speech will not from the field. You may tell an interesting story but it will not be within the field. Some people can speak always in the field from the field as the field. It is amazing and wonderful. They make comments and the comments are reflections of their experience within the field. Some have this capacity. Some who have many opinions speak their opinions and comments from within the field…it is aesthetically fun and informing. But first they have spent hours of speaking experientially near, within the field of the present moment of the here and the now. Only in time have their minds integrated into awareness. Such completion takes time.

This is very developed skill. This capacity to be experientially near, from within your experience and from within your awareness. In learning this method of deepening your experience of awareness, commentary speech can be a distraction. Making commentaries about yourself or the other is a distraction from being within the field of your own awareness. When you make certain judgments about yourself and absolute judgments about others, this judgementalness will take you out of the field. In such absolute judgments you pretend to be the one who knows. It can give you false certainty, illusionary certainty, which actually is no certainty at all. And then you are surprised at what actually happens.

The concrete superego is a relentless commentary both on oneself and everyone else and everything else. Because primitive states of deprivation and annihilation are the primitive affective source of the superego formation, the judgments arise out of attempts at surviving annihilation, anxiety or deprivation anxiety. The person located in the superego will impose deprivation or annihilation on the one to whom or on whom the judgmentalness is focused. The person dominated by the superego equates this judgmentalness with discrimination or discernment and believes this cruel assessment is wisdom gnosis. More often than not religious fools equate divinity with their superego formulations.

The abyss of Emptiness! There is the metaphor someone presented recently about reading a self-help book sitting on the edge of the abyss of the Grand Canyon. It is really a great metaphor.

Many people are caught in this dilemma. Concrete books within a concrete mind. Surely you have been in a concrete situation looking at a concrete book with concrete mind and trying to find concrete operations for a concrete solution. This is technical mind, objectified mind, reified mind, and an obsessional style…a compulsive style. We will call this the obsessional moment…the waiting for Godot moment.

So this metaphor brings us to the question as how to read a text or hear a text.

So how to read a text….Most importantly how to read sacred or classical text, a symbolic text that reflects the awareness field of the writer and the field of lineage. Should you read it with your mind alone or read within the field of awareness? What do you think? There is that difference again. There is that difference between knowing within you mind and knowing within your awareness as awareness.

First, pointing out instructions

Pointing out instructions is not a self-help text. The instructions are not really concrete operational, and if you think they are you will suffer because you will read within your mind alone and nothing will happen. Nothing will happen since something is always left out, and you yourself have to discover that which is left out either from within the field of your being or you may discover it within the field of the person giving pointing out instructions. In pointing out instructions you are not actually being given information but you are being informed by and within dimensions of the awareness field that is manifesting or self-arising via transmission.

The pointing out is actually asking you to experience and gaze into what is happening within you in the here and now…in the here and now of the transmission.

In pointing out instructions the field is the teacher. The same field is within you and within the person giving the pointing out instructions. The same field is teaching both in the present moment…coming through both persons. Liberation is self-arising presence, self-arising knowledge, self-arising knowingness. And what is being spoken is not to your mind but to your awareness, which is abiding within awareness, within the field. In that direct experience of nonduality what is being said and being thought and being felt and pointed out is the experience that is arising from within you. There are words and letters but the actuality of transmission is direct and unmediated. The words are the winds that move and open us to experience what is being spoken about or felt or known. They are indicators, gestures, signs pointing to the opening of openness within you. Words as metaphors or words as metonyms!

In reading a text the same phenomenon is taking place. In reading a text you want to experience the mind of the writer, or better said the field of the awareness of the writer that is carried by words and even through the words and beyond the words. The words and symbols are like winds that stir the mind and most of all the innermost awareness. So that awareness gazes into the text and beyond the text into the mind to the writer or the awareness of the writer. The syllables are iconic doorways. Ultimately such texts are mind-to-mind transmissions or awareness-to-awareness transmissions…all within the oneness of the timeless field arising in time…time within timelessness.

I grew up knowing this. Not all the time but some of the time. Whatever text I read I learned to gaze into to experience the mind of the writer. In my life this method has opened so much experience for me. Later I learned that this is how the masters have described how to read and how to hear.

So in reading a text you gaze into the text within text or even one word of the text or the whole text at the same time. Timeless awareness in time…timeless awareness manifesting in time as words and symbols…through your awareness field you lean into or enter into or penetrate into the text with your feeling or tone of the field of awareness.

Heidegger when asked what he wished to have said at his funeral by Professor Wendt, the famous theologian from Tubingen, he said, “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find and knock and it will opened.” This quote from the gospel of John is a great way to open the book of the text.

You gaze within the text and experience what arises within you. You experience the lineage of the text…the field of the text. The more concrete operational you become the less you will ever understand, as hard and as sincerely as you try. The tighter the focus, the smaller the space of openness. Your mind will lose space, and without spaciousness you are in an obsessional state…a place without space.  

As you meditatively gaze into the space of the page, the words will manifest and symbols will manifest and syllables open and the vibrations are felt and knowledge itself arises. The text has opened and is giving its treasures to you. Gazing into givenness, self liberates.

You should have an open unbound focus and not a tight narrow focus. Your concentration should be lose and silky and at times you should gaze at the whole page and see what manifests both to you and within you. Such reading takes place within your whole body and not through eyes alone.

The more you love the page and love what is to be given through the page the more you will receive within you embodied knowledge. Some of you are in recovery. Learning to recover your lost skill of direct perception and knowingness that you had as children. Before your mind became so concrete and linear and hyperfocused, a mind always remaining in a mild, unending panic. Knowing knows fields, fields of knowledge are only fields of being.

When you are reading a tantric text it is necessary to invoke mediative awareness and feel the text with your whole body permeated by the field of awareness and extending your field through the text into the realm of the whoness of the teacher. As you join your whoness with the whoness of the text that is the whoness of the teacher and the whoness of lineage, that is the field of awareness becoming self-presence and self-knowledge. As you know this it is self-liberation.

At times you will find yourself reading randomly or being lead randomly. In a way the field is reading the field through the iconic forms of letters and words and the very space of the pages.

In a way a whoness wrote the text and the text itself is now a whoness…primordial awareness manifesting through words and letters as understanding itself. Is the who, the logos. As is declared in Genesis: In the beginning was the word and the word was with god and was god.

Passing through the text

Passing through is a fruitional practice of the power of extension. The power of extension is the power of the awareness field extending beyond your body into the body of another. The power of extension is the power of the light being extended into the light. The power of extension is the power of the bodhichitta, the great compassion. As the great lama Yangtang Rinpoche said in giving the empowerment of the bodhichitta, the absolute power of the bodhicitta is the extension into the present, the extension in the past and the extension into the future.

When extension takes place the light meets the light. Or as is described in the dzogchen text by Jigme Lingpa the Yeshe Lama, the inner ying meets the outer ying. As the inner field of one awareness meets the inner field of the other, arising out of the nonduality is the intensity of the light.

The same power of extension can be used in reading a text or listening to the words of a teacher. The nondual state arises and the intensification opens gnosis and knowingness to us.


Written by Rudolph Bauer, Ph. D.  .A.B.P.P.

The Washington Center for Consciousness Studies 

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